The popular Gardener's World programme aired an episode on Friday 26th November including weather monitoring in the garden. Filmed at presenter Carol Klein's cottage in Devon, Skyview were pleased to loan weather monitoring equipment to the show, including installation, helping keen gardeners understand how to use weather readings from the garden.
Everyone loves the beauty and tranquillity of a well-tended garden throughout the seasons. Combining the art of gardening with the science behind the scenes, Carol Klein turned her garden into a living laboratory to better understand the complex processes that bring our gardens to life.
Met Office Weather man Peter Gibbs was one of the specialists on hand to monitor the variations in weather conditions within the garden. In order to do this Skyview had donated some weather monitoring equipment so that variables such as wind, temperature and solar radiation could be recorded over a period of a month.
Skyview were also happy to provide a dedicated web service, Skylink Pro, which enabled all the data from the electronic monitors in the garden to be viewed online, allowing Peter to access and interpret the data prior to the conclusion of the experiment, and to ensure all equipment was working correctly without having to physically check.
Also featured in the programme was a Dr Robin Probert from the Millennium Seed Bank, an expert on seeds, and he discussed seed storage with Carol and gave advice on how and when is best to collect your seeds to ensure successful germination.
Another expert involved in the project was Prof. Keith Goulding, President of the British Society of Soil Science. Together Keith and Carol performed a simple experiment to determine the components of soil in Carol's garden. The importance of these elements determines which plants will grow successfully and how you can help to create healthy soil in your own garden.
Kim Findlay and Dr Hilary Rogers provided a detailed look into the science behind plants and leaves. Using an electron microscope the structures that allow photosynthesis were examined, and the science of plant development and the role hormones play were explained. Dr Jeff Ollerton was called upon to touch upon 'inflorescence'; groups or clusters of flowers, along with pollination and how the release of ethanol can trigger the petals to wither.
For the weather portion of the programme a Davis Wireless Vantage Pro 2 Plus was used. This provided readings over the course of the month, and readings were taken in 3 different locations within the garden. To illustrate how wind moves, a simple bubble machine was used. This demonstrated clearly how, amongst the flowers and below the hedges and trees, the bubbles moved slowly, indicating lower wind speeds. The bubbles that went higher moved much quicker and more erratically, demonstrating the more turbulent the air. Advice was given on how trees and shrubs provide more effective wind breaks than walls, as they help to absorb the wind, whereas walls force the wind around and over, which can create more turbulence. This experiment clearly showed how delicate flowers need to be in more protected areas, whilst hardier plants with thicker structures could withstand harsher wind conditions.
Home-made rain gauges were placed in several locations around the garden. These were collected at the end of the month and compared with surprising results. In open areas the rainfall was almost 4 times that collected next to a wall. This simple experiment, using plastic water bottles can be copied by any gardener to help determine what rainfall different areas within the garden are subject to, and plants can be picked out accordingly.
Davis Weatherlink software was utilized to demonstrate how different the temperature and humidity could be within such a small area. The graphing feature of the software allowed all three sensors to be easily compared. The contrast between the lowest and highest temperature and humidity was startling. In the clearing of one set of sensors the humidity dropped off throughout the day, whereas in the shadier area of another set of sensors, near a stream the humidity stayed more constant. The results for temperature also saw marked differences, with a range of a maximum 18 degrees Celsius in one area to 25 degrees in the sunniest. Peter compared this to a typical difference between Northern France to Scotland!
There are many factors to be considered for successful gardening, and this episode gave some great ideas as to how simply and effectively see what is at work in every garden, from determining soil composition to establishing weather patterns. For more information on the episode Click Here.